Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 5th, 1913
The defense of Leo Frank will bring out vividly before the jury Tuesday that the striking feature of Jim Conley’s dramatic recital on the stand Monday was that it differed not only from the first two affidavits signed by the negro, which he later repudiated in large part, but it also conflicted in several particulars with the last sensational affidavit in which he charged Leo Frank with the killing of the girl and related that he (Conley) disposed of the body and wrote the notes that were found at its side at Frank’s direction.
As a conspicuous example, Conley in his narrative before the jury Monday told for the first time of hearing the Phagan girl scream after she had gone to Frank’s office and, according to his story, walked with the superintendent to the rear of the factory.
He said nothing of this in his first two affidavits. Neither did he mention it in his third sworn statement. On the contrary, he denied to the detectives at that time that he had heard any sound indicating that a crime had been committed. To a reporter for The Georgian who saw him after he had made the third affidavit he made the same firm denial.
He even denied that he had seen the little girl enter the factory. That he was on the first floor and saw Mary Phagan when she went upstairs was not known until The Georgian published an exclusive story to that effect following the talk that Solicitor Dorsey and Frank Hooper had with the negro in the commissioners’ room at the police station weeks after the third affidavit.
There are probably a score of other discrepancies that appear in his tale before the jury and the stories contained in his string of affidavits.
The affidavits leave one with the information that Conley arose between 9 and 9:30 o’clock the day that Mary Phagan was killed. The negro told this, he said, by a large clock he could not see by looking out of his window as he was dressing.
By this same clock, he informed the jury Monday that it was not 9 or 9:30, but 6 o’clock when he got out of bed Saturday, April 26.
Although the third affidavit is curiously silent in respect to times, the other affidavits and the stories he told the police and reporters had it that he left home at about 10 o’clock Saturday forenoon.
He said Monday that he arrived at the factory at 8:30 Saturday morning.
Previously he had said that he did not get there until about 11 o’clock, after he had met Frank at Nelson and Forsyth streets and followed Frank to the factory at the superintendent’s request.
In order that his new story should have sequence it was necessary for Conley to make other changes. He could not have spent all the time on Peters street of which he told if the new story was to hold water. He made changes in the time here.
And, instead of meeting Frank accidentally at Nelson and Forsyth streets, he met him by appointment and returned with him to the factory.
He told nothing in any of his affidavits of Frank’s alleged appointments with women in his office, nothing that would lead to the suspicion that Frank had been intimate or had sought to be intimate with any of the girls or women in his employ.
Conley still insists that he overheard N. V. Darley and Miss Mattie Smith conversing in front of the factory after he had returned with Frank from Montag Brothers. This was 11 o’clock or after.
But Darley swore under oath last week that he and Miss Smith left the factory at or before 9:40.
Conley, in telling of the persons that visited the factory the day that Mary Phagan was killed, mentioned Lemmie Quinn, but he declared that Quinn came into the factory before either Monteen Stover or Mary Phagan entered.
Quinn and Frank have agreed that he visited Frank’s office at about 12:20, which was after the Stover and Phagan girls had gone upstairs and the Stover girl had returned to the street.
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Atlanta Georgian, August 5th 1913, “Many Discrepancies to Be Bridged in Conley’s Stories,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)